Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.43 a.5
Objection: 1. It would seem that passive scandal may happen even to the perfect. For Christ was supremely perfect: and yet He said to Peter (Mt 16,23): "Thou art a scandal to Me." Much more therefore can other perfect men suffer scandal.
2. Further, scandal denotes an obstacle which is put in a person's spiritual way. Now even perfect men can be hindered in their progress along the spiritual way, according to 1 Thess. 2:18: "We would have come to you, I Paul indeed, once and again; but Satan hath hindered us." Therefore even perfect men can suffer scandal.
3. Further, even perfect men are liable to venial sins, according to 1Jn 1,8: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves." Now passive scandal is not always a mortal sin, but is sometimes venial, as stated above (Article ). Therefore passive scandal may be found in perfect men.
On the contrary Jerome, in commenting on Mt 18,6, "He that shall scandalize one of these little ones," says: "Observe that it is the little one that is scandalized, for the elders do not take scandal."
I answer that Passive scandal implies that the mind of the person who takes scandal is unsettled in its adherence to good. Now no man can be unsettled, who adheres firmly to something immovable. The elders, i.e. the perfect, adhere to God alone, Whose goodness is unchangeable, for though they adhere to their superiors, they do so only in so far as these adhere to Christ, according to 1Co 4,16: "Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ." Wherefore, however much others may appear to them to conduct themselves ill in word or deed, they themselves do not stray from their righteousness, according to Ps 124,1: "They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Sion: he shall not be moved for ever that dwelleth in Jerusalem." Therefore scandal is not found in those who adhere to God perfectly by love, according to Ps 118,165: "Much peace have they that love Thy law, and to them there is no stumbling-block [scandalum]."
Reply to Objection: 1. As stated above (Article , ad 2), in this passage, scandal is used in a broad sense, to denote any kind of hindrance. Hence Our Lord said to Peter: "Thou art a scandal to Me," because he was endeavoring to weaken Our Lord's purpose of undergoing His Passion.
2. Perfect men may be hindered in the performance of external actions. But they are not hindered by the words or deeds of others, from tending to God in the internal acts of the will, according to Rm 8,38-39: "Neither death, nor life . . . shall be able to separate us from the love of God."
3. Perfect men sometimes fall into venial sins through the weakness of the flesh; but they are not scandalized (taking scandal in its true sense), by the words or deeds of others, although there can be an approach to scandal in them, according to Ps 72,2: "My feet were almost moved."
Objection: 1. It would seem that active scandal can be found in the perfect. For passion is the effect of action. Now some are scandalized passively by the words or deeds of the perfect, according to Mt 15,12: "Dost thou know that the Pharisees, when they heard this word, were scandalized?" Therefore active scandal can be found in the perfect.
2. Further, Peter, after receiving the Holy Ghost, was in the state of the perfect. Yet afterwards he scandalized the gentiles: for it is written (Ga 2,14): "When I saw that they walked not uprightly unto the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas," i.e. Peter, "before them all: If thou being a Jew, livest after the manner of the gentiles, and not as the Jews do, how dost thou compel the gentiles to live as do the Jews?" Therefore active scandal can be in the perfect.
3. Further, active scandal is sometimes a venial sin. But venial sins may be in perfect men. Therefore active scandal may be in perfect men.
On the contrary Active scandal is more opposed to perfection, than passive scandal. But passive scandal cannot be in the perfect. Much less, therefore, can active scandal be in them.
I answer that Active scandal, properly so called, occurs when a man says or does a thing which in itself is of a nature to occasion another's spiritual downfall, and that is only when what he says or does is inordinate. Now it belongs to the perfect to direct all their actions according to the rule of reason, as stated in 1Co 14,40: "Let all things be done decently and according to order"; and they are careful to do this in those matters chiefly wherein not only would they do wrong, but would also be to others an occasion of wrongdoing. And if indeed they fail in this moderation in such words or deeds as come to the knowledge of others, this has its origin in human weakness wherein they fall short of perfection. Yet they do not fall short so far as to stray far from the order of reason, but only a little and in some slight matter: and this is not so grave that anyone can reasonably take therefrom an occasion for committing sin.
Reply to Objection: 1. Passive scandal is always due to some active scandal; yet this active scandal is not always in another, but in the very person who is scandalized, because, to wit, he scandalizes himself.
2. In the opinion of Augustine (Ep. xxviii, xl, lxxxii) and of Paul also, Peter sinned and was to be blamed, in withdrawing from the gentiles in order to avoid the scandal of the Jews, because he did this somewhat imprudently, so that the gentiles who had been converted to the faith were scandalized. Nevertheless Peter's action was not so grave a sin as to give others sufficient ground for scandal. Hence they were guilty of passive scandal, while there was no active scandal in Peter.
3. The venial sins of the perfect consist chiefly in sudden movements, which being hidden cannot give scandal. If, however, they commit any venial sins even in their external words or deeds, these are so slight as to be insufficient in themselves to give scandal.
Objection: 1. It would seem that spiritual goods ought to be foregone on account of scandal. For Augustine (Contra Ep. Parmen. iii, 2) teaches that "punishment for sin should cease, when the peril of schism is feared." But punishment of sins is a spiritual good, since it is an act of justice. Therefore a spiritual good is to be foregone on account of scandal.
2. Further, the Sacred Doctrine is a most spiritual thing. Yet one ought to desist therefrom on account of scandal, according to Mt 7,6: "Give not that which is holy to dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine lest . . . turning upon you, they tear you." Therefore a spiritual good should be foregone on account of scandal.
3. Further, since fraternal correction is an act of charity, it is a spiritual good. Yet sometimes it is omitted out of charity, in order to avoid giving scandal to others, as Augustine observes (De Civ. Dei i, 9). Therefore a spiritual good should be foregone on account of scandal.
4. Further, Jerome [*Hugh de S. Cher., In Matth. xviii; in Luc. xvii, 2] says that in order to avoid scandal we should forego whatever it is possible to omit without prejudice to the threefold truth, i.e. "the truth of life, of justice and of doctrine." Now the observance of the counsels, and the bestowal of alms may often be omitted without prejudice to the aforesaid threefold truth, else whoever omitted them would always be guilty of sin, and yet such things are the greatest of spiritual works. Therefore spiritual works should be omitted on account of scandal.
5. Further, the avoidance of any sin is a spiritual good, since any sin brings spiritual harm to the sinner. Now it seems that one ought sometimes to commit a venial sin in order to avoid scandalizing one's neighbor, for instance, when by sinning venially, one would prevent someone else from committing a mortal sin: because one is bound to hinder the damnation of one's neighbor as much as one can without prejudice to one's own salvation, which is not precluded by a venial sin. Therefore one ought to forego a spiritual good in order to avoid scandal.
On the contrary Gregory says (Hom. Super Ezech. vii): "If people are scandalized at the truth, it is better to allow the birth of scandal, than to abandon the truth." Now spiritual goods belong, above all others, to the truth. Therefore spiritual goods are not to be foregone on account of scandal.
I answer that Whereas scandal is twofold, active and passive, the present question does not apply to active scandal, for since active scandal is "something said or done less rightly," nothing ought to be done that implies active scandal. The question does, however, apply to passive scandal, and accordingly we have to see what ought to be foregone in order to avoid scandal. Now a distinction must be made in spiritual goods. For some of them are necessary for salvation, and cannot be foregone without mortal sin: and it is evident that no man ought to commit a mortal sin, in order to prevent another from sinning, because according to the order of charity, a man ought to love his own spiritual welfare more than another's. Therefore one ought not to forego that which is necessary for salvation, in order to avoid giving scandal.Again a distinction seems necessary among spiritual things which are not necessary for salvation: because the scandal which arises from such things sometimes proceeds from malice, for instance when a man wishes to hinder those spiritual goods by stirring up scandal. This is the "scandal of the Pharisees," who were scandalized at Our Lord's teaching: and Our Lord teaches (Mt 15,14) that we ought to treat such like scandal with contempt. Sometimes scandal proceeds from weakness or ignorance, and such is the "scandal of little ones." In order to avoid this kind of scandal, spiritual goods ought to be either concealed, or sometimes even deferred (if this can be done without incurring immediate danger), until the matter being explained the scandal cease. If, however, the scandal continue after the matter has been explained, it would seem to be due to malice, and then it would no longer be right to forego that spiritual good in order to avoid such like scandal.
Reply to Objection: 1. In the infliction of punishment it is not the punishment itself that is the end in view, but its medicinal properties in checking sin; wherefore punishment partakes of the nature of justice, in so far as it checks sin. But if it is evident that the infliction of punishment will result in more numerous and more grievous sins being committed, the infliction of punishment will no longer be a part of justice. It is in this sense that Augustine is speaking, when, to wit, the excommunication of a few threatens to bring about the danger of a schism, for in that case it would be contrary to the truth of justice to pronounce excommunication.
2. With regard to a man's doctrine two points must be considered, namely, the truth which is taught, and the act of teaching. The first of these is necessary for salvation, to wit, that he whose duty it is to teach should no' teach what is contrary to the truth, and that he should teach the truth according to the requirements of times and persons: wherefore on no account ought he to suppress the truth and teach error in order to avoid any scandal that might ensue. But the act itself of teaching is one of the spiritual almsdeeds, as stated above (Question , Article ), and so the same is to be said of it as of the other works of mercy, of which we shall speak further on (ad 4).
3. As stated above (Question , Article ), fraternal correction aims at the correction of a brother, wherefore it is to be reckoned among spiritual goods in so far as this end can be obtained, which is not the case if the brother be scandalized through being corrected. And so, if the correction be omitted in order to avoid scandal, no spiritual good is foregone.
4. The truth of life, of doctrine, and of justice comprises not only whatever is necessary for salvation, but also whatever is a means of obtaining salvation more perfectly, according to 1Co 12,31: "Be zealous for the better gifts." Wherefore neither the counsels nor even the works of mercy are to be altogether omitted in order to avoid scandal; but sometimes they should be concealed or deferred, on account of the scandal of the little ones, as stated above. Sometimes, however, the observance of the counsels and the fulfilment of the works of mercy are necessary for salvation. This may be seen in the case of those who have vowed to keep the counsels, and of those whose duty it is to relieve the wants of others, either in temporal matters (as by feeding the hungry), or in spiritual matters (as by instructing the ignorant), whether such duties arise from their being enjoined as in the case of prelates, or from the need on the part of the person in want; and then the same applies to these things as to others that are necessary for salvation.
5. Some have said that one ought to commit a venial sin in order to avoid scandal. But this implies a contradiction, since if it ought to be done, it is no longer evil or sinful, for a sin cannot be a matter of choice. It may happen however that, on account of some circumstance, something is not a venial sin, though it would be were it not for that circumstance: thus an idle word is a venial sin, when it is uttered uselessly; yet if it be uttered for a reasonable cause, it is neither idle nor sinful. And though venial sin does not deprive a man of grace which is his means of salvation, yet, in so far as it disposes him to mortal sin, it tends to the loss of salvation.
Objection: 1. It would seem that temporal goods should be foregone on account of scandal. For we ought to love our neighbor's spiritual welfare which is hindered by scandal, more than any temporal goods whatever. But we forego what we love less for the sake of what we love more. Therefore we should forego temporal goods in order to avoid scandalizing our neighbor.
2. Further, according to Jerome's rule [*Cf. Article , Objection ], whatever can be foregone without prejudice to the threefold truth, should be omitted in order to avoid scandal. Now temporal goods can be foregone without prejudice to the threefold truth. Therefore they should be foregone in order to avoid scandal.
3. Further, no temporal good is more necessary than food. But we ought to forego taking food on account of scandal, according to Rm 14,15: "Destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died." Much more therefore should all other temporal goods be foregone on account of scandal.
4. Further, the most fitting way of safeguarding and recovering temporal goods is the court of justice. But it is unlawful to have recourse to justice, especially if scandal ensues: for it is written (Mt 5,40): "If a man will contend with thee in judgment, and take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him"; and (1Co 6,7): "Already indeed there is plainly a fault among you, that you have lawsuits one with another. Why do you not rather take wrong? why do you not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" Therefore it seems that we ought to forego temporal goods on account of scandal.
5. Further, we ought, seemingly, to forego least of all those temporal goods which are connected with spiritual goods: and yet we ought to forego them on account of scandal. For the Apostle while sowing spiritual things did not accept a temporal stipend lest he "should give any hindrance to the Gospel of Christ" as we read 1Co 9,12. For a like reason the Church does not demand tithes in certain countries, in order to avoid scandal. Much more, therefore, ought we to forego other temporal goods in order to avoid scandal.
On the contrary Blessed Thomas of Canterbury demanded the restitution of Church property, notwithstanding that the king took scandal from his doing so.
I answer that A distinction must be made in temporal goods: for either they are ours, or they are consigned to us to take care of them for someone else; thus the goods of the Church are consigned to prelates, and the goods of the community are entrusted to all such persons as have authority over the common weal. In this latter case the care of such things (as of things held in deposit) devolves of necessity on those persons to whom they are entrusted, wherefore, even as other things that are necessary for salvation, they are not to be foregone on account of scandal. On the other hand, as regards those temporalities of which we have the dominion, sometimes, on account of scandal, we are bound to forego them, and sometimes we are not so bound, whether we forego them by giving them up, if we have them in our possession, or by omitting to claim them, if they are in the possession of others. For if the scandal arise therefrom through the ignorance or weakness of others (in which case, as stated above, Article , it is scandal of the little ones) we must either forego such temporalities altogether, or the scandal must be abated by some other means, namely, by some kind of admonition. Hence Augustine says (De Serm. Dom. in Monte i, 20): "Thou shouldst give so as to injure neither thyself nor another, as much as thou canst lend, and if thou refusest what is asked, thou must yet be just to him, indeed thou wilt give him something better than he asks, if thou reprove him that asks unjustly." Sometimes, however, scandal arises from malice. This is scandal of the Pharisees: and we ought not to forego temporal goods for the sake of those who stir up scandals of this kind, for this would both be harmful to the common good, since it would give wicked men an opportunity of plunder, and would be injurious to the plunderers themselves, who would remain in sin as long as they were in possession of another's property. Hence Gregory says (Moral. xxxi, 13): "Sometimes we ought to suffer those who rob us of our temporalities, while sometimes we should resist them, as far as equity allows, in the hope not only that we may safeguard our property, but also lest those who take what is not theirs may lose themselves."
Reply to Objection: 1. This suffices for the Reply to the First Objection.
2. If it were permissible for wicked men to rob other people of their property, this would tend to the detriment of the truth of life and justice. Therefore we are not always bound to forego our temporal goods in order to avoid scandal.
3. The Apostle had no intention of counselling total abstinence from food on account of scandal, because our welfare requires that we should take food: but he intended to counsel abstinence from a particular kind of food, in order to avoid scandal, according to 1Co 8,13: "I will never eat flesh, lest I should scandalize my brother."
4. According to Augustine (De Serm. Dom. in Monte i, 19) this precept of Our Lord is to be understood of the preparedness of the mind, namely, that man should be prepared, if it be expedient, to suffer being harmed or defrauded, rather than go to law. But sometimes it is not expedient, as stated above (ad 2). The same applies to the saying of the Apostle.
5. The scandal which the Apostle avoided, arose from an error of the gentiles who were not used to this payment. Hence it behooved him to forego it for the time being, so that they might be taught first of all that such a payment was a duty. For a like reason the Church refrains from demanding tithes in those countries where it is not customary to pay them.
We must now consider the Precepts of Charity, under which there are eight points of inquiry:
(1) Whether precepts should be given about charity?
(2) Whether there should be one or two?
(3) Whether two suffice?
(4) Whether it is fittingly prescribed that we should love God, "with thy whole heart"?
(5) Whether it is fittingly added: "With thy whole mind," etc.?
(6) Whether it is possible to fulfil this precept in this life?
(7) Of the precept: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself";
(8) Whether the order of charity is included in the precept?
Objection: 1. It would seem that no precept should be given about charity. For charity imposes the mode on all acts of virtue, since it is the form of the virtues as stated above (Question , Article ), while the precepts are about the virtues themselves. Now, according to the common saying, the mode is not included in the precept. Therefore no precepts should be given about charity.
2. Further, charity, which "is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost" (Rm 5,5), makes us free, since "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2Co 3,17). Now the obligation that arises from a precept is opposed to liberty, since it imposes a necessity. Therefore no precept should be given about charity.
3. Further, charity is the foremost among all the virtues, to which the precepts are directed, as shown above (I-II 90,2; I-II 100,9). If, therefore, any precepts were given about charity, they should have a place among the chief precepts which are those of the decalogue. But they have no place there. Therefore no precepts should be given about charity.
On the contrary Whatever God requires of us is included in a precept. Now God requires that man should love Him, according to Dt 10,12. Therefore it behooved precepts to be given about the love of charity, which is the love of God.
I answer that As stated above (Question , Article ; I-II 99,1), a precept implies the notion of something due. Hence a thing is a matter of precept, in so far as it is something due. Now a thing is due in two ways, for its own sake, and for the sake of something else. In every affair, it is the end that is due for its own sake, because it has the character of a good for its own sake: while that which is directed to the end is due for the sake of something else: thus for a physician, it is due for its own sake, that he should heal, while it is due for the sake of something else that he should give a medicine in order to heal. Now the end of the spiritual life is that man be united to God, and this union is effected by charity, while all things pertaining to the spiritual life are ordained to this union, as to their end. Hence the Apostle says (1Tm 1,5): "The end of the commandment is charity from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith." For all the virtues, about whose acts the precepts are given, are directed either to the freeing of the heart from the whirl of the passions---such are the virtues that regulate the passions---or at least to the possession of a good conscience---such are the virtues that regulate operations---or to the having of a right faith---such are those which pertain to the worship of God: and these three things are required of man that he may love God. For an impure heart is withdrawn from loving God, on account of the passion that inclines it to earthly things; an evil conscience gives man a horror for God's justice, through fear of His punishments; and an untrue faith draws man's affections to an untrue representation of God, and separates him from the truth of God. Now in every genus that which is for its own sake takes precedence of that which is for the sake of another, wherefore the greatest precept is that of charity, as stated in Mt 22,39.
Reply to Objection: 1. As stated above (I-II 100,10) when we were treating of the commandments, the mode of love does not come under those precepts which are about the other acts of virtue: for instance, this precept, "Honor thy father and thy mother," does not prescribe that this should be done out of charity. The act of love does, however, fall under special precepts.
2. The obligation of a precept is not opposed to liberty, except in one whose mind is averted from that which is prescribed, as may be seen in those who keep the precepts through fear alone. But the precept of love cannot be fulfilled save of one's own will, wherefore it is not opposed to charity.
3. All the precepts of the decalogue are directed to the love of God and of our neighbor: and therefore the precepts of charity had not to be enumerated among the precepts of the decalogue, since they are included in all of them.
Objection: 1. It would seem that there should not have been given two precepts of charity. For the precepts of the Law are directed to virtue, as stated above (Article , Objection ). Now charity is one virtue, as shown above (Question , Article ). Therefore only one precept of charity should have been given.
2. Further, as Augustine says (De Doctr. Christ. i, 22,27), charity loves none but God in our neighbor. Now we are sufficiently directed to love God by the precept, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God." Therefore there was no need to add the precept about loving our neighbor.
3. Further, different sins are opposed to different precepts. But it is not a sin to put aside the love of our neighbor, provided we put not aside the love of God; indeed, it is written (Lc 15,26): "If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother . . . he cannot be My disciple." Therefore the precept of the love of God is not distinct from the precept of the love of our neighbor.
4. Further, the Apostle says (Rm 13,8): "He that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the Law." But a law is not fulfilled unless all its precepts be observed. Therefore all the precepts are included in the love of our neighbor: and consequently the one precept of the love of our neighbor suffices. Therefore there should not be two precepts of charity.
On the contrary It is written (1Jn 4,21): "This commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God, love also his brother."
I answer that As stated above (I-II 91,3; I-II 94,2) when we were treating of the commandments, the precepts are to the Law what propositions are to speculative sciences, for in these latter, the conclusions are virtually contained in the first principles. Hence whoever knows the principles as to their entire virtual extent has no need to have the conclusions put separately before him. Since, however, some who know the principles are unable to consider all that is virtually contained therein, it is necessary, for their sake, that scientific conclusions should be traced to their principles. Now in practical matters wherein the precepts of the Law direct us, the end has the character of principle, as stated above (Question , Article , ad 2; Question , Article , ad 1): and the love of God is the end to which the love of our neighbor is directed. Therefore it behooved us to receive precepts not only of the love of God but also of the love of our neighbor, on account of those who are less intelligent, who do not easily understand that one of these precepts is included in the other.
Reply to Objection: 1. Although charity is one virtue, yet it has two acts, one of which is directed to the other as to its end. Now precepts are given about acts of virtue, and so there had to be several precepts of charity.
2. God is loved in our neighbor, as the end is loved in that which is directed to the end; and yet there was need for an explicit precept about both, for the reason given above.
3. The means derive their goodness from their relation to the end, and accordingly aversion from the means derives its malice from the same source and from no other
4.Love of our neighbor includes love of God, as the end is included in the means, and vice versa: and yet it behooved each precept to be given explicitly, for the reason given above.
Objection: 1. It would seem that two precepts of charity do not suffice. For precepts are given about acts of virtue. Now acts are distinguished by their objects. Since, then, man is bound to love four things out of charity, namely, God, himself, his neighbor and his own body, as shown above (Question , Article ; Question ), it seems that there ought to be four precepts of charity, so that two are not sufficient.
2. Further, love is not the only act of charity, but also joy, peace and beneficence. But precepts should be given about the acts of the virtues. Therefore two precepts of charity do not suffice.
3. Further, virtue consists not only in doing good but also in avoiding evil. Now we are led by the positive precepts to do good, and by the negative precepts to avoid evil. Therefore there ought to have been not only positive, but also negative precepts about charity; and so two precepts of charity are not sufficient.
On the contrary Our Lord said (Mt 22,40): "On these two commandments dependeth the whole Law and the prophets."
I answer that Charity, as stated above (Question , Article ), is a kind of friendship. Now friendship is between one person and another, wherefore Gregory says (Hom. in Ev. xvii): "Charity is not possible between less than two": and it has been explained how one may love oneself out of charity (Question , Article ). Now since good is the object of dilection and love, and since good is either an end or a means, it is fitting that there should be two precepts of charity, one whereby we are induced to love God as our end, and another whereby we are led to love our neighbor for God's sake, as for the sake of our end
Reply to Objection: 1. As Augustine says (De Doctr. Christ. i, 23), "though four things are to be loved out of charity, there was no need of a precept as regards the second and fourth," i.e. love of oneself and of one's own body. "For however much a man may stray from the truth, the love of himself and of his own body always remains in him." And yet the mode of this love had to be prescribed to man, namely, that he should love himself and his own body in an ordinate manner, and this is done by his loving God and his neighbor.
2. As stated above (Question , Article ; Question , Article ), the other acts of charity result from the act of love as effects from their cause. Hence the precepts of love virtually include the precepts about the other acts. And yet we find that, for the sake of the laggards, special precepts were given about each act---about joy (Ph 4,4): "Rejoice in the Lord always"---about peace (He 12,14): "Follow peace with all men"---about beneficence (Ga 6,10): "Whilst we have time, let us work good to all men"---and Holy Writ contains precepts about each of the parts of beneficence, as may be seen by anyone who considers the matter carefully.
3. To do good is more than to avoid evil, and therefore the positive precepts virtually include the negative precepts. Nevertheless we find explicit precepts against the vices contrary to charity: for, against hatred it is written (Lv 12,17): "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart"; against sloth (Si 6,26): "Be not grieved with her bands"; against envy (Ga 5,26): "Let us not be made desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another"; against discord (1Co 1,10): "That you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you"; and against scandal (Rm 14,13): "That you put not a stumbling-block or a scandal in your brother's way."
Objection: 1. It would seem that it is unfittingly commanded that man should love God with his whole heart. For the mode of a virtuous act is not a matter of precept, as shown above (Article , ad 1; I-II 100,9). Now the words "with thy whole heart" signify the mode of the love of God. Therefore it is unfittingly commanded that man should love God with his whole heart.
2. Further, "A thing is whole and perfect when it lacks nothing" (Phys. iii, 6). If therefore it is a matter of precept that God be loved with the whole heart, whoever does something not pertaining to the love of God, acts counter to the precept, and consequently sins mortally. Now a venial sin does not pertain to the love of God. Therefore a venial sin is a mortal sin, which is absurd.
3. Further, to love God with one's whole heart belongs to perfection, since according to the Philosopher (Phys. iii, text. 64), "to be whole is to be perfect." But that which belongs to perfection is not a matter of precept, but a matter of counsel. Therefore we ought not to be commanded to love God with our whole heart.
On the contrary It is written (Dt 6,5): "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart."
I answer that Since precepts are given about acts of virtue, an act is a matter of precept according as it is an act of virtue. Now it is requisite for an act of virtue that not only should it fall on its own matter, but also that it should be endued with its due circumstances, whereby it is adapted to that matter. But God is to be loved as the last end, to which all things are to be referred. Therefore some kind of totality was to be indicated in connection with the precept of the love of God.
Reply to Objection: 1. The commandment that prescribes an act of virtue does not prescribe the mode which that virtue derives from another and higher virtue, but it does prescribe the mode which belongs to its own proper virtue, and this mode is signified in the words "with thy whole heart."
2. To love God with one's whole heart has a twofold signification. First, actually, so that a man's whole heart be always actually directed to God: this is the perfection of heaven. Secondly, in the sense that a man's whole heart be habitually directed to God, so that it consent to nothing contrary to the love of God, and this is the perfection of the way. Venial sin is not contrary to this latter perfection, because it does not destroy the habit of charity, since it does not tend to a contrary object, but merely hinders the use of charity.
3. That perfection of charity to which the counsels are directed, is between the two perfections mentioned in the preceding reply: and it consists in man renouncing, as much as possible, temporal things, even such as are lawful, because they occupy the mind and hinder the actual movement of the heart towards God.
Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.43 a.5